Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carrying Traditions With a Smile On Your Face

*WARNING: This blog post deals with religion, faith, death and culture.  Comments filled with hate will not be tolerated. 

Yesterday I posted this photo with the following caption to my Casa On And Off The Rez Facebook page. 

I ordered a few crosses from a friend's cousin recently.

Today I got a call saying they're ready and other people are trying to buy them so I HAVE to pick them up today.

Unfortunately, I didn't drive in to work today...I rode the work s

I managed to pick them up with the use of a coworker's truck, but then had to decide whether to leave them in my office till next week...or to take them home on the work shuttle...

I decided to take them home.

My coworkers are STILL laughing.

I was a little nervous about posting this picture to my Facebook page, because I thought I'd hear from someone saying that I was treating the crosses with disrespect or something like that.  I also have a sharp divide in friends who are very, very, religious and ones who are very anti-organized religion.  

Just in case anyone is curious, I am very open about the fact that I am not Catholic or Christian, but I still honor many of the O'odham Catholic practices because it has been woven so tightly with O'odham culture, that I cannot cleanly separate the two.  When I was younger, I was angry and refused to participate in some events, but by doing so, I missed out on a lot of special moments in my community and I hurt many people around me.   

I've learned to focus more on family and tradition and to be guided more by a sense of what I feel is right.  I do not attend church (nor do I want to) and I do not want anyone to try to "save" me or guide me to something else.  I know for others, that may be troubling, but I believe in treating people the way you wanted to be treated, and I'm sure if you're a devout Catholic, you don't want someone to try to convince you to be a devout Morman or Buddhist or the other way around.  Please respect my beliefs, I respect yours, whatever they may be.  

Now, back to my photo.  I asked a coworker  to take the photo because I wanted to document the things that I take on the work shuttle, and I thought a few others might find it humorous.  Much to my surprise, a LARGE number of people liked the photo, and every single O'odham who commented on it found the situation funny.  I did not read ONE single negative comment come from an O'odham person.  Also, it is important to note, that all the positive comments came from other, O'odham women. 

Of course, as O'odham, we see one of these types of crosses and we know what they're for, especially during this time of year.  It would never even occur to us that it might be an odd sight. 

What DIDN'T occur to me was that my non-Native friends (which I have a lot of) wouldn't understand why I'd be carrying wooden crosses around or taking them home on my work shuttle. 

Here's my explanation for the crosses, which, as promised, is very long and complicated. 

The crosses are for my family's cemetery. Nov. 2nd is the O'odham celebration: Limosañ.  Some people call it, "All Soul's Day," but it's celebrated in the O'odham way.  It's a day to honor, feed and energize our departed loved ones for another year in the spirit world. It's somewhat similar to El día de los muertos, except O'odham aren't supposed to come into contact with our spirits.  My family never celebrates on Nov. 2nd, for various reasons, but we always celebrate.  Although we've had "hard" years, it's a time for family and remembering your departed loved ones, plus there's lots of delicious foods.  Limosañ is one of my favorite holidays because of the love that it emphasizes.     

As most of you know, I grew up in the village of Pisin' Mo'o, but my family is actually from a smaller community called, Ku:pk.  Ku:pk is where my mom grew up as a girl and where I spent most of my summers as a child.  It's about a 30-40 minute drive from Pisin' Mo'o on dirt roads.  I would estimate that it's a three hour drive from Tucson, 2 1/2 if you if you have a truck sturdy enough to take the back roads from Sells.  

The road to Ku:pk through the dirty windshield of my sister's truck. 
Ku:pk has never been "big" but when I was a kid, there were people who lived there year-round.  Now I think there are only two or three people who live there, part-time. 

Next October we'll be hosting the Ge'e Piast (Big Dance) there though, so there have been some additions (like a dance floor) and they've brought in electricity.  It was the dream of my great-uncle, Vincent JoseMaria-bat to host Ge'e Piast in Ku:pk.  My aunt and cousins have been working hard for the past few years to get ready for it. 

In Ku:pk, there are a few houses (maybe five or six), a feast house, a small church and a cemetery. 

The cemetery is different from the ones you see in town.  The gate that marks its boundaries are made with mesquite wood and barbed wire.  There's no grass.  There are very few headstones.  There are no trees or statues or crying angels.  There is no mortuary where people gather.  There are no men in golf carts who stand around waiting to lower the caskets into the ground with the push of a button like they do in the movies.   

Mostly, there are white crosses like the ones I have in that photo, adorned with paper or plastic flowers, attached to the crosses with wire.  There are candles, momentos and containers of water left by loving family members throughout the year. 

When someone dies, the men in the community are the ones who dig the hole for them.  The men of the community are also the ones who lower the caskets into the hole with ropes.  They climb inside to place a blanket directly on the casket and to carefully place shaved, mesquite logs side by side across the entire length of the hole.  The logs rest on a ledge which is slightly wider than the hole where the casket has been placed.  On top of the logs, huge bunches of creosote are spread over the top of the logs, until you can't see underneath it.  Everyone is given the opportunity to grab a handful of dirt from a waiting shovel and say their final goodbyes as they toss it into the grave.  A white cross is placed at the head of the grave then finally, the hole is filled as we stand and watch.  All men take a turn as five or six shovels kick up dirt and fill the hole to the top.  The weight of the dirt pressing against the cross secures it firmly in place.  After the mound is shaped, the flowers and wreaths, brought by guests are placed on top. 

The crosses wear with age, they're exposed to the heat, wind, rain and blowing dust.  Sometimes, after years and years, crosses will need to be replaced.  There is no company that does this, no service which you pay.  Repairs are done by the family.   

This cross OBVIOUSLY needs to be replaced.

Before Limosañ, the entire family cleans the graves.  Old flowers and candles are thrown away and holes that may have formed due to the decay of the logs and creosote underneath the dirt are smoothed over.  On Limosañ we decorate the graves with new wreaths and set out new candles.  We invite them to a feast which we've set up just for them, and which we don't attend.

My mom and nephew at our family's cemetery, getting ready to decorate the graves. 

The next morning, after the food is blessed, we can then partake in the feast, warming food and sharing with our extended families.  Nothing goes to waste. 
When I was a little girl, my hu'ul ke:li-bat, my late, Great-Uncle Vincent always maintained our cemetery.  He made new crosses by hand when they were needed and painted them right outside his cement house and left them there to dry. 

When hu'ul ke:li-bat passed away, my brother, Adrian dutifully took care of our cemetery, often stopping at the graves of our hu'uli-bat and hu'ul ke:li-bat to say hello.   

I have three brothers; my oldest brother is an academic and a professional with a demanding job and a BIG family (who is ALWAYS busy), my middle brother lives out of state, and my youngest brother, who was three years older than me, is buried in that same cemetery. 

My two oldest nephews don't have the resources, knowledge or skill to maintain these responsibilities.  My husband, who isn't O'odham, will be making our family's crosses in the future, but it will be a self-taught adventure for him.  Our cemetery needs crosses now and there was no one to make them, so my sister and I made the decision to order these three crosses on our family's behalf.  The cousin of a friend of mine made them for us and we paid him $55.00 total for three crosses.

A miscommunication on the timeframe led us to this outcome:

Struggling with three crosses with a smile on my face.

I think it's important to note, that in that photo, not only am I holding crosses, but I'm also wearing a laptop on my back and waiting for my ride back to town.  Although I didn't intend for the black and white photo to be so striking, it really does capture the struggle that I face on a daily basis as a progressive woman, struggling to maintain my history, culture and obligations to my family.

This is new territory for us, for O'odham women, to be forced to care of our family's cemetery.  It's an emotionally heavy task that has even higher cultural implications that can't all be explained in writing.

I was thankful, yesterday for the opportunity to laugh with my fellow O'odham women who are also struggling to maintain these ways and who understand my family's history and our challenges.   

Being in the O'odham community, there were many smiles and non-denominational offers of help, which I very much appreciated, but which I laughingly declined.  The crosses are now at my sister's house, where they'll stay until we will load them into the bed of her big, red truck and make our way to Ku:pk in the next few weeks.   

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and for those of you celebrating today, Happy Limosañ!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cowboys vs. Indians Day at Thunderbird High School (with short update)

Tonight on the University of Arizona's Tohono O'odham Student Association (UA TOSA) Facebook page, I learned about a situation happening in Phoenix that shocked, disgusted and angered me. 
Thunderbird High School is hosting a "Cowboys vs. Indians Day" tomorrow (10/24) as part of the "Spirit Week" leading up to their Homecoming on Friday. 
A Native student named, Traviz Tuvungytewa, a junior at Thunderbird, posted the following video to his facebook page and asked others to share it on his behalf.
"My response to Thunderbird High's Cowboy vs. Indian day.  I hope you guys watch this despite the length. I hope you guys at least see this from my perspective.  SPREAD THE WORD THIS IS NOT OK" -Traviz 

In the video Traviz shares that upon hearing about the Cowboys vs. Indians Day, requested that the school change the theme for that singular day. 

He took his concerns to the principal and she declined his request.  She then justified her decision to allow the day to continue as planned, despite the offensive nature, because their school's mascot... is a "Chief."  

No, the school is not predominately Native American.  Yes, I understand there is a great sense in pride for predominately Native American schools to use Native terms and imagery in their school's athletics.  I side with these schools for their ownership of these terms and images.  This, however, is not one of those situations.  This is a school in Glendale, Arizona.  This student is of the minority.   

Of course, this comes on the heels of today's ignorant statements in made by Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer regarding the "Redskins" team name.  You can read her skin-crawlingly offensive drivel here: Brewer: Nothing offensive about 'Redskins' team name 

I greatly admire this young man for his honesty and bravery on such a shockingly polarizing issue.   

For those of you who are still trying to justify the use of Native American terms and imagery in athletics, please take the time to listen to this young, Native American describe how alienated and persecuted it makes him feel just to attend his local school, which has a "Chief" as their mascot.   
Although the student feels that it is "too late" to change the minds of his administrators, even with outside support, he hopes that it will at least begin a discussion regarding the changing of their school's mascot. 

I wrote the following letter on his behalf and sent it to an administrator at Glendale Union High School District.

Mr. Capistran, 
It has come to my attention that Thunderbird High School is hosting a "Cowboys vs. Indians Day" as part of their spirit week festivities tomorrow.  It has also come to my attention that at least one Native American student has voiced their concerns to the Principal of Thunderbird High School and his request to have the theme changed has been denied.    
I am shocked and disappointed by the Student Council's decision to host such an event.  Although I'm disappointed by their choice, I would like to emphasize that I do not place blame on them, as they are young and have much to learn about the world around them.  
I am, however, truly offended and angered that the administration of Thunderbird High School not only approved the theme, but continued to support the event even after a Native American student voiced his concerns, and requested that the theme of that singular day, be changed.  
I am shocked that Thunderbird High School, an educational institution is continuing to promote this theme, which blatantly disrespects its Native American students!  
The "Cowboys vs. Indians" era in American history was an extremely violent and devastating period for the American Indian People of the Southwest. That era in American history was a time in which Indigenous populations were aggressively, brutally and mercilessly invaded, relocated and/or murdered for the sake of land, gold and "progress."   
Having a day such as a "Cowboys vs. Indians Day" is comparable to hosting a "Germans vs. The Nazi's Day" or a "Slaves vs. Slave-owners Day".  It is unacceptable and deplorable that this event is being supported by Thunderbird High School.     
Choosing to host such an event both alienates and ostracizes your Native American students and makes a mockery of the pain and persecution that our people have endured throughout history.  It creates an antagonistic racial divide between those who are Native American, and those who are not.  
It is our job as educators to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive learning environment for our students, one which is free of hostility, discrimination and hate.  
I hope that by drawing attention to this severe lapse in judgement, the Glendale Union High School District can bring about administrative action on this event and open up the discussion on how your schools can educate your students to honor, respect and celebrate cultural differences, rather than perpetuate offensive stereotypes and facilitate racism.  
I am asking that you personally visit the Thunderbird High School on 10/24 and discuss how you and the principal can bring an end to this offensively "themed" day.  
I look forward to your response, 
Thank you, 
My full name 
My contact information
For those of you still engaging in the "Native Americans as Mascots debate," the debate is now over. 
It's done.  It's offensive and it's unacceptable.
It's time to take action.
::UPDATE:: (Sorta)
Here's a short update from Traviz' cousin', who is the person who originally brought this story to my attention.  Here's what she shared with the UofA Tohono O'odham Student Association's page
"So far I've gotten word from 2 news stations who have taken special interest in the story but here is the latest update as of an hour or so ago. A few parents and my Aunt (Travis' mother) have spoken with the principal to address this situation concerning Thunderbird High Schools spirit day, themed, "Cowboys versus Indians" earlier today. The principal stated she did not realize the implications and effects the theme raised. However, as educators the school and principal should have known better and should have stopped this from ever happening. The Glendale Union HS district administration will be contacted. We feel that the the American Indian students deserve an apology! Another student from ASU's AIS suggested the school release a public apology at the pep rally, the school reluctantly did not go for the idea. The principal stated the theme of "Cowboys VERSUS Indians" was taken out of context and was supposed to be, "Cowboys AND Indians" (As if that were any better!!!). It still represents and perpetuates the same notion of racism, segregation and the emotional infliction it bestows upon the American Indian students of that school. The high school is supposed to ensure the safety and well being of every student, no matter their race, religion, ethnicity etc. Thunderbird High School is not up holding those responsibilities. My family members do not deserve to put up with this and basically be told by the the school that it's ok to segregate and exploit the American Indian students. These students deserve an apology and the Thunderbird High School principal and faculty need to address this situation to their non-Indian students and educate them on what this theme disrespectfully represents."

Let's let that sink in...  "The Cowboys VERSUS Indians theme was taken out of context and was supposed to be, 'Cowboys AND Indians."
I'll try to keep you posted!
Thank you to all of you who wrote emails on behalf of Traviz!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Dear Deer Brother

My middle brother, Pasqual, has always been extremely hyper-active.  Despite having asthma as a kid, he was always very athletic and never seemed to run out of energy. 

Pasqual was always an extremely hard worker; he would always be out chopping wood, hunting for food, working with the cowboys in our village, driving tractors with our dad or working out in the fields.  Even at the young age of 10 or 11, he would work alongside full-grown men in our village as an equal.  Pasqual worked hard to provide for our family and there were even times when he was basically our family's sole provider. 

However, when Pasqual wasn't doing all of those extremely responsible things, he'd usually be getting himself into trouble or acting like a complete idiot.  He liked to pick fights with everyone.  Pasqual was obnoxiously fearless.  He loved to prank people, especially my oldest brother, my sister and even our mom.  He loved, loved, loved to get in people's faces and annoy the heck out of them.  

Pasqual was really quick, he'd come in like a Tasmanian devil, wreaking havoc for a few minutes until you were angry enough to fight back, then he'd jump through a window, or onto the roof for a quick getaway.  He relished in other people's anger.       

My three brothers, my sister and I spent a lot of time at home unsupervised.  It's really a wonder we made it through unscathed.  We had more tolerance for each other, but our mom was easily annoyed by Pasqual's antics.  Pasqual, after all, was always coming up with new and creative ways to be obnoxious.       

One day my mom was in the middle of what we called "her mean sweep".  The Mean Sweep occurred whenever our house was dirty (which it always was) and when no one had sprung into action after her repeated instructions to clean.  She would angrily sweep through the entire house push anything and everything in her path into a big pile by the front door.  She didn't care if there was a blanket or a pair of shoes, clothes, homework, books, anything at all that had been left on the floor would be swept into one huge pile.  As soon as she started the mean sweep, there would be a frantic rush for all of us to hurry up and pick up before she got there.  If you got in her way, she'd hit you with the broom and try to sweep you out too. 

Although we laugh about it now, as a kid, this always made me cry.  It really was not a laughing matter at the time.

There were two ends to Rosella's Mean Sweeps: Either she gave us a chance to pick up everything out of the giant pile by the front door (usually with the door wide open, in case she wanted to sweep it all the way outside) OR she would pick up everything herself and angrily throw it into the garbage.  We would have to wait until she calmed down later to quietly pick our shoes and clothes out of the garbage. 

The main part of our house was one large room, the kitchen led into the living room and we had a couple of big pieces of furniture taking up most of the space. We had a big dining room table, a couch and a bed, all of which were always cluttered and messy. 

On this particular day, everyone was already upset because mom was doing her mean sweep through the house, and Pasqual had refused to help.  Instead he chose to antagonize my mom.  I don't remember exactly what he did to annoy her, but she ignored him at first.  Pasqual, however, was relentless.  Finally, she swatted at him and he quickly jumped away from her to avoid the slap.  You could almost see the lightbulb go off in his head as he came up with a new idea.  He jumped again and said "Look mom, I'm a deer!"  

Our mom was FURIOUS.  She was already mad to the point of doing the Mean Sweep, add in Pasqual intentionally mocking her, and she absolutely lost it.  He continued prancing around our kitchen table, disregarding my mom, who by now was shrieking at the top of her lungs for him to cut it out and clean up, but he calmly replied "I can't. I'm a deer." as he stopped to check his surroundings, perfectly mimicking the movements of a deer.   

My oldest brother and sister were both mad and were yelling for him to stop acting like an idiot and help us clean.  My mom, who usually couldn't be distracted from her mean sweep got so angry she started chasing him around with her broom.

Pasqual completely undisturbed by the shrieking and the yelling,
continued to take great, big, prancing leaps all over the house while proclaiming, "I'm a deer, I'm a deer!"  He jumped from the couch to the bed and around the kitchen table as if completely unaware that Rosella was chasing him with a broom.    
With big, confident leaps, he managed to evade my mom's broom again and again as she chased him around the house. She was getting angrier with each wild swing of her broom, but Pasqual remained calm and unconcerned with her, as if unaware she were chasing him.  He was in full character.  He was a deer.

My mom tried to anticipate his jumps and kept swatting at him with the broom and each time she missed she manages to knock something over.  She finally started to gain on him, so Pasqual started to make his exit.  He announced "I'm a deer." one more time as he effortlessly leaped just out of her reach.

Pasqual gracefully headed for the open door, my mom, now sweating, with her hair flying everywhere, wildly ran after him as she realized he was about to escape her wrath.

Pasqual took one final flying leap, and much to everyone's surprise, hit his head on the doorjamb and came crashing down to the floor.  Pasqual laid flat and unmoving for a few seconds as the room errupted in laughter.  

Although we laughed, we still rushed over to make sure he was okay.  Everyone that is, except for Rosella.  She was still filled with burning fury so she yelled, "OH! SO YOU WANNA BE A DEER HUH?!" as she smacked him over and over as he laid on the floor. 

I had always remembered my mom hitting Pasqual with the broom, but according to him, she threw the broom at him, then picked up a shoe and repeatedly hit him with it while yelling about him being a deer.  He says he was too dizzy to get up at the time, so he curled up in a ball until he could collect himself, then jumped up and ran out of the house.  

We're pretty sure that he gave himself a concussion, but we'll never know for sure.  Rosella was too mad to even look at his forehead.     

Later, when we asked him what happened, he simply replied, "I miscalculated the jump."   

This little stunt earned my brother the nickname, E"-pac g m-kua" which translates to, "Broke Your Head". 
It's been twenty or so years since that chaotic day, and from time to time my siblings and I still tease him about it

This is what I sent him this year on his birthday:

FRONT: Happy Birthday, Pasqual! You'll always...
INSIDE: Be that idiot that pretended to be a deer in the house, almost knocked yourself out, mid-jump, then got smacked with a broom while laying on the floor by mom.  Love you.  Hope you have a great birthday.  <3 Gabby

Anytime we talk about it, Pasqual will shake his head and say with a smile, "Yeah, I tell people, those were the days before CPS."  


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rosella the Millionaire

I'm constantly trying to explain to my mom that the letters that she gets in the mail, which promise her money are scams. 

I've shown her websites, newspaper articles and pamphlets about how to identify these "sweepstakes" or these "free prizes".  But she won't listen.  I've watched news segments on it with her and I've even helped her close two bank accounts and file two separate police reports after she's gotten money stolen from her bank accounts. 

Now she doesn't have a bank account.  She doesn't write checks anymore... now she sends money orders. 

She'll send $12.00, a "processing fee" for a 1.5 million dollar check.  And she'll tell me things like, "Well, if everything works out."  And she truly believes it. 

I don't know how many cars she's told me she's won.  She's been absolutely convinced. 

This is a constant argument.  I used to yell and get high pitched and everything. Now I just try to patiently tell her how I know something is a scam.

"Mom, free money is always supposed to be FREE.  You're not supposed to send money in order to get a free prize.  Free stuff is supposed to be FREE."

"Mom, stop responding to these people, they're scamming you.  Look, this isn't 'Publisher's Clearinghouse' it's 'Publishers', they're not legit, and see, they're asking for money."

"Mom, they're sending you junk.  You paid $80.00 for something you can get for $20 at Wal-mart.  Stop sending them money,  I'll take you to the store, wherever you wanna go."

"Mom, this isn't an iPod, this is an MP3 player."

Nothing I say or do makes a difference.  So now my mom has become very secretive about why she needs money orders or stamps, and tries to redirect the conversation when I ask her what she's sending. 

It's her money, but it makes me feel sick that someone is taking advantage or my mom. 

It's EXTREMELY frustrating. 

She doesn't send letters or cards to anyone, she only mails back her claim forms for her millions of dollars, or her free cars, or her expensive jewelry and prizes!  All of them are scams, scams, scams.  They aren't even CONVINCING scams, they're very OBVIOUSLY scams

Tonight, she asked me for three stamps. 

I took a deep breath, and very nicely asked, "Who are you sending mail to, Mom?"

There was a long pause while my mom considered her answer.  Finally she says, "A loved one." which we both knew was a lie. 

My husband in the kitchen says, "Who are you in love with? Ed McMahon?"

My mom's cherished loved one

Super-official junk mail sent by the PRESIDENT of Processing and Judging!
Yes, she opened this one.
Federated Allocation Bureau
"Personal and Confidential"
(because we don't want your daughter to know you're getting scammed)

"To Be Lawfully Opened By Addressee Only"
"Official Mail"
"Open Without Delay"

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rosella's REO Speedwagon Adventure

In case you're not up to date on the story.  My mom asked me to take her to an REO Speedwagon Concert.  In case you missed that blog, you'll definitely want to read that first, here's the link: Rosella: The Music Aficionado.
My mom loves to go to the casino. I've stopped fighting it.  Whatever.  She goes often enough that she's considered a "VIP Player" and can visit the VIP lounge and get free food, free hotel stays or free concert tickets.  

At first, we didn't think she was gonna get the tickets. We made a call to her "VIP Host" and my mom says to her, "I was concerned about some tickets..."
She was put on a waiting list, which to me is always a nice way of saying "no".  Surprisingly, we got the call the night before the show that there were two tickets waiting for us in Sahuarita. 

It was official, Rosella and I were going to have a ladies night on the town. 

There was too much going on for me to go into detail, so I'll just share a few highlights. 

- Rosella insisted we get t-shirts, and they are fabulous. 
My mom wearing her new shirt.

She sort of panicked when we got up to the t-shirt table and held up the line both by taking her time deciding, then looking through her giant, leopard print purse for her debit card. We didn't know the back said this when we bought it.

- We took lots of selfies. 
There's me smiling and my mom looking sultry.

Right before we took this photo I told her to smile. She said, "No, I refuse to smile." And I said, "Oh yeah? Rent-To-Own Speedwagon."  We shared a good laugh. 

 - Rosella repeatedly and very loudly kept saying, "Awww... I missed CCR!"  She said it before, during and even after the show.  She also told any people we talked to that yes, we just saw REO, but she missed CCR.  She made it sound like she goes to concerts all the time, but according to her, the last concert she went to was when we were kids and we saw Amy Grant playing at the State Fair back in the 80's. 
- Every once in a while I would glance at my mom, to make sure she was enjoying herself.  She spent a lot of time rummaging around in her purse.  I caught her applying lipstick once.

It was dark in there.

The tall, long-haired couple sitting in front of us kept blocking our view. Here's a photo of them being obnoxious.  At one point the man was screaming at a woman in front of him for blocking his view by dancing...

The biggest highlight, however, involves these:
Dangerously delicious.

I don't chew gum for the following reasons.
#1. I don't like the taste of artificial sweetners.  Gum is now commonly made with every kind of artificial sweetner out there. I hate it. It gives me an instant headache. 
#2. I have severe TMJ (Jaw problems).  I see my dentist regularly because of it.  Gum is just a nightmare for my entire face.

So, when my mom offered me a piece of gum during the concert, I immediately declined.  She says, "There's no artificial sweetners in it..." (There were).  "No thanks, I'm good." I said, and turned back to the concert. She shakes the container in front of my face, "Just have one." she says.  Patiently, I tell her, "Mom, I'm fine, I don't want one." Then she starts getting higher pitched, "Here. It's new! Just try one!" 

I just gave up, took a piece of gum, popped it into my mouth and continued watching the show.  

A few minutes later, I felt my mom hit my arm.  She does this a lot when she wants to get my attention, so I very casually look over at her...

She's pointing towards her throat and flailing her arms, indicating that she wants me to hit her on the back. 


I smacked my mom's back until the piece of delicious, artificially sweetened death was knocked out of her windpipe. 

::deep breath::

She's fine. 

We stayed till the end of the concert, where she loudly announced, yet once again, that she's sad she missed CCR.  

It's hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure she only recognized a few songs (I only recognized 3).  It was a good show and the audience was lively... But according to my mom, they were no CCR.  

We made plans to go to CCR if they come back next year, which made her happy. 

If we score tickets, I think I'll ban her from bringing gum into the show. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gasp, Mom and Dad are Feminists!

Last night, my daughters were both working on posters for their history class.  One of my daughters was working on our personal computer, and once I got home, I pulled out my work laptop so we could do two projects at once.  

They were supposed to find an "Iconic American image", make a poster about it, write up a summary of what it is and why it's important and what it makes them think of.  

One of my daughters chose to do the nuclear bomb clouds from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

My favorite line from her report was, "I think that America should not be proud of this bombing, but should use it as an example of how badly humans can destroy the world."  

She was almost done with her project when I got home.  I only watched her as she carefully taped down everything to her board. 

Iconic American Image: Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Nuclear Bombing
By. S.C.K.

My other daughter chose to do Rosie the Riveter.  I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter last year for Halloween, which I think is why she finally decided on it.  I had told her a little about who I was last year, but I guess due to the sugar high, she didn't really get the whole concept.     

She had written the first few sentences of her report written, and it's pretty standard for my husband and I to ask our girls what words mean, just to make sure they can explain the concepts when they do their presentations.  

"Alright, read me the first sentence."

My daughter carefully reads, "Rosie the Riveter is an iconic image that represents feminism and women's economic power."  She looks at me expecting me to just have her continue on.   

"Cool.  Do you know what feminism is?"

With a deep look of concentration she says, "Uh...'re like... a female...and you...uh..." she smiles, knowing she's busted. She has no clue.  

Her sister jumps in, "Ooh! Is it when... someone is against you because you're a girl or a woman or whatever?"
"Nope. Do you want me to tell you?"

My daughter tries again, "No... is it when someone is against you because you're feminine?"

"No, it's not a bad thing." I say, trying to nudge her in the right direction.  "What?" she says, confused.  

I tell her, "I'm a feminist." and her eyes grow wide.  Then I tell her, "Your dad's also a feminist." She looks absolutely shocked, she's scandalized.  I can see her world crashing down behind her eyes as she tries to make sense of what I've just told her.  

"Sweetie, you know the word racist, right?" Her eyes are still wide and she has a sad look of confusion, "Yes..." "What does it mean?" "It means you hate somebody just because of what race they are."

"Yes, but the word 'feminist' doesn't follow the same rule as the word racist.  In fact, it means kind of the opposite.  A feminist is just a person who believes in feminism... Do you want me to tell you what feminism is?" 

Slowly she nods, so I tell her, "Feminism is just the simple concept that men and women are equal." 

"That's it?!" she yells, confused. "But...what? That's...wait...who doesn't believe that men and women aren't equal?" 

"Sadly, a lot of people." 

"Really?  That's crazy! That's stupid." 

As soon as she realized that piece of the puzzle, she began to understand the Rosie the Riveter concept a little more and she was excited to write her report. 

Iconic Image: Rosie the Riveter
By. A.C. K. 

To be honest, it was late when she finished her project, it was just past midnight when I finally said, "Print what you have and put it on your poster board." 

In the morning, as my entire family still slept, I saw their posters on the kitchen table.  I took photos of them so I could look at them a little more closely once I was fully awake.  Sometimes school projects end up staying at school or in the trunk of a car, or they come home damaged, so I take a lot of pictures of my daughters' school projects in the early mornings when everyone is still in bed.  

I actually didn't intend on sharing the photos.  

I slept on the shuttle ride in to work.  I was completely exhausted.  I immediately jumped into work before I even got to my office and set my stuff down.  

I plugged in my laptop to my docking station and started printing stuff out I needed for a meeting later in the morning.  

I went to the printer to retrieve my print job and I found these: 

And this:

Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is an iconic image that represents feminism and women’s economic power. Feminism is the idea that women and men should be treated as equals.
Rosie the Riveter isn’t a real person. Rosie the Riveter was used in ad campaigns to get women to start working. The government said that it was a “patriotic duty” for women to enter the work force. That meant that if you were a patriot, you should start working. This convinced many women to start working.
Most of the men were in the wars during WWII, so there was no one to make things such as guns and other things for the men other than the women, which is why they were now told to start working. Even though the women were allowed to work in factories now, they were given less pay than the men. At a wartime plant it was about $54.65 for men and $31.50 for women (per week). The women accepted it because the other option was to stay at home and not earn any money at all.
At first, women were only allowed to be receptionists, secretaries, and other things like that. Then the government had women work in factories. After the war, when the men came back, some women went back to these jobs because the men told them to or they didn’t think of it as a patriotic duty anymore, but some women kept their jobs at the factories. This opened up many opportunities for women.

My daughter had tried to print her finished report from my work laptop, which isn't hooked up to our home printer.  We had a small moment of panic before we realized that we had printed from my work computer.  We saved it on a flash drive and printed again from our personal computer. 

I guess the print job on my work laptop wasn't ever cancelled, because it immediately processed the print job, the minute I connected to the server at work.  

I sat and read my daughter's report two or three times in my office.  I looked at the photos and just sat thinking about how crazy it is that my daughters are growing up not fully understanding the ins and outs of gender inequality.  

I suppose it's a good thing.  The world is changing.  Women can wear pants. Women can vote. Women can own land and businesses.  Women can have jobs.  Women can go to college. Women can join the military.  Women can divorce their husbands.  Soon women will be able to legally marry (or divorce) either their husband or their wife.  

Women still don't always receive equal pay. Women still aren't fully represented in our justice system.  Women do not have the same opportunities open to them.  We still haven't had a female president, and we're still talking about Hilary's bad hair days.  Women are still discriminated against, bullied, abused, raped and murdered, because they're women.     

But the world is changing.  

The world is changing and now my 12 year old daughter can't imagine a world where those types of things are acceptable.  

She laughs at the idea of me "obeying" her dad.  She knows as well as anybody that I do what I want and my husband loves me for that. 

I posted the report and the pictures up on my wall at work.  

Anytime I had a free minute today, I imagined the look on my daughter's face when I told her I was a feminist.  

The world is changing.  

Maybe one day, people will learn what the word 'feminism' means and stop treating it like it's a bad word.  

Maybe one day, people won't react to the word, 'feminism' like my 12 year old daughters did, because they thought it has something to do with inexplicable hate. 

Maybe one day we won't need the word, 'feminism', because, of course we're equal.